Sunday, November 20, 2011

Science Fiction

Here is a delightful story 10-year old Rajat wrote for a question in his English book, which asked him to write a science fiction story. A couple of tiny corrections in spelling and punctuation are the only changes I have made while typing it out.

A Brief History of my Life


When I first met the interplanetary explorer Edward Hardgriff, I thought he was pretty stupid: first, he was a big showoff, second he always won the prizes in our school (nothing wrong with that) and for that part in our college. The loudmouth and I shared rooms in an astronomy college. He was interested in the practical bit, I was interested in astronomy.


A few years later, because of staying with him for so long, we became friends. Maybe it is because of something I don’t remember, but I don’t think so. After a while he followed his profession and I followed mine: he became an astronaut, and I became an astrophysicist and wrote a Ph.D. on quasars1.


After I’d completely forgotten him I got a call from him. He sent me a telegram:


HAVE MADE BREAKTHROUGH. STOP. COME AT ONCE. STOP.

REYKJAVIK.


What on earth was he doing in Iceland?! He had sent me a ship ticket to Iceland by courier too.


I did not want to disappoint an old college friend so I boarded the ship to Reykjavik and after a long and uneventful voyage I reached the port at Reykjavik.


Edward was waiting there with a small Volkswagen Beetle. After a short ride through lanes of Reykjavik we reached his house. As soon as we got inside I asked him what kind of discovery he had made. He said: “I have made the best discovery of all time after Einstein!”


“All right, all right, what is it?”


“I’ll show you tomorrow, now go to sleep! You must have had a tiring journey”


I wanted to protest to tell him all that I had done on the ship was eat, sleep and look at flying fish, but he would not listen.


I was defeated. I went and lay down; lay down, not sleep. The whole night I spent puzzling over the last week’s events.


Why on earth – no, not on earth, the universe, had he asked me to come to his house?


And what was this discovery he claimed was the best discovery of all time after Einstein? After a while of thinking about it, I fell asleep.


The next morning when I woke up, it was 9:15. I had breakfast and again asked him what his great discovery was.


“Tell you later (munch) after breakfast.”


This got me very irritated. Maybe he had made no breakthrough at all; maybe he had pulled me to Reykjavik for no reason at all?


I asked him: “Is this all some kind of joke?”


“Joke? You think I’ve pulled you all the way to Reykjavik for no reason at all?”


He was speaking my thoughts, I thought!


“All right, no dilly-dally! I’ll show you – and tell you right now – ” He took a break. “My discovery,” he said loftily, “is this: I have invented a machine that can vanish your intrinsic mass!”


I fell off my chair in astonishment.


“But how does that help?”


“A lot”


“But what are you going to do with that?”


“Not me,” he said, “We.”


“All right, what are we going to do with that?”


“And I have found evidence of intelligent ETs!”


This time I fell off my chair and rolled under the table.


After I had gotten up I said, “But how will you prove that?”


“Exactly, I reported to the GSA2 but they said I have to go to the closest lunatic asylum!”


“So what are you going to do?”


“I am going to go there (to find the ETs)!”


“Where is there?”


“In the LMC3!”


“But that is 160,000 light years away! And even if you get there how are you going to search? It’s 20,000 light years across!”


“I know. This is where my molecule separator comes in! I’ll show you.”


He got up and walked to the front door. I followed him. He unlocked it; he now went towards the Volkswagen Beetle. He unlocked this too. He ushered me in, then he got in.


“This Beetle? This is your great invention?”


“No. Where is it you want to go?”


I was startled by this sudden question. So I just said what I was thinking about. “Hawaii”


“Righto!”


I heard a small noise go “boof” and suddenly I could see Mount Wailalea!


Then Edward made that boofing noise again and we were back where we started! But how did he do it? You must be gagging to know that.


This is a pretty lame answer, but I, for one, do not know. I tried asking him but all the response I got was “mhm!”


That whole day he did absolutely nothing to enlighten me. The next day, immediately after I got up, he ushered me into his Beetle.


“Where are we going now?”


But that question (along with many others) was never answered for the car had gone “boof” and we were whisked to the Large Magellanic Cloud, and will not come back until a certain black-hole in the LMC dies. So whether there is or is not extra-terrestrial life in the LMC is unknown.

...

1 My uncle did this.

2 Global Space Agency

3 Large Magellanic Cloud

--

(I am waiting for the sequel too!)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Carnatic, Classical, Violin, Vocal

We haven't posted much onto the blog for a long time now -- I will try and get down to sharing bits of news from the past few months now.


Srikiran, a carnatic classical violinist, spent the day with us in August. He played a very moving little 'kriti' for us at assembly. Amidst the usual excited hubbub of the post-lunch break, the feeble strains of a melody emerged from a window. We followed it into the cool dimness of the library and found this (please excuse the dark video):






Parvathy, the singer, is a fifteen-year old student at Shibumi. She has been singing and learning music seriously for years now. The musicians found each other after lunch and had an informal little 'jam' with a couple of us looking on, savouring every moment.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Shadow Puppets

Are You My Mother?
Adapted from P.D.Eastman's classic picture book



The Silly Rabbit
Adapted from the folk-tale



Nikita anchored a one-week long workshop in shadow-puppetry at school this month, at the end of which we put up two little plays, both based on well-known stories. Two student groups of eight each (between 7 and 14 years old) worked towards one play each. Nikita briefly took us through the history of this art-form and showed us amazing examples of shadow-puppetry, before we began together to visualise the stories and make and choreograph the puppets.

Behind the Scenes
- From Nikita's blog